Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    Co-design of improved climbing bean production practices for smallholder farmers in the highlands of Uganda
    Ronner, E. ; Descheemaeker, K. ; Almekinders, C. ; Ebanyat, P. ; Giller, K.E. - \ 2019
    Agricultural Systems 175 (2019). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 1 - 12.
    Legumes - Multi-criteria - Participatory - Phaseolus vulgaris

    We evaluated the usefulness of a co-design process to generate a relevant basket of options for climbing bean cultivation in the context of a large-scale project. The aim was to identify a range of options sufficiently diverse to be of interest for farmers of widely-different resource endowment. The co-design process consisted of three cycles of demonstration, evaluation and re-design in the eastern and southwestern highlands of Uganda in 2014–2015. Evaluations aimed to distinguish preferences of farmers between the two areas, and among farmers of different gender and socio-economic backgrounds. Farmers, researchers, extension officers and NGO staff re-designed treatments for demonstrations in the next season. Climbing bean yields and evaluation scores varied between seasons and sites. Evaluation scores were not always in line with yields, revealing that farmers used multiple evaluation criteria next to yield, such as marketability of varieties, availability of inputs and ease of staking methods. The co-design process enriched the basket of options, improved the relevance of options demonstrated and enhanced the understanding of preferences of a diversity of users. Developing options for resource-poor farmers was difficult, however, because they face multiple constraints. The basket of options developed in this study can be applied across the East-African highlands, with an ‘option-by-context’ matrix as a starting point for out-scaling. The study also showed, however, that consistent recommendations about the suitability of technologies for different types of farmers were hard to identify. This highlights the importance of a basket of options with flexible combinations of practices rather than developing narrowly specified technology packages for static farm types.

    A comprehensive investigation of the behaviour of phenolic compounds in legumes during domestic cooking and in vitro digestion
    Giusti, Federica ; Capuano, Edoardo ; Sagratini, Gianni ; Pellegrini, Nicoletta - \ 2019
    Food Chemistry 285 (2019). - ISSN 0308-8146 - p. 458 - 467.
    Anthocyanins - Bioaccessibility - In-vitro digestion - Legumes - Phenolic compounds

    Legumes represent staple foods rich in phenolic compounds, which are often consumed after soaking and boiling. This study determines the fate of phenolic compounds from six legumes varieties belonging to the species Lens culinaris Medik., Phaseolus vulgaris L. and Cicer arietinum L. after soaking, boiling and digestion. To this purpose, a new HPLC-DAD method was developed and validated. Results show that the cooking process strongly reduces the content in free and bound phenolic compounds and that the processing water is a valuable source of phenolics. Bioaccessibility of phenolics from the legume matrix was investigated separately in the coat and the cotyledons of three chosen varieties (black beans, black lentils and pinto beans) by means of a standardized in vitro digestion protocol. Results showed that only a fraction of the phenolic compounds is bioaccessible, which may have implications for human health.

    Prospect for increasing grain legume crop production in East Africa
    Loon, Marloes P. van; Deng, Nanyan ; Grassini, Patricio ; Rattalino Edreira, Juan I. ; Wolde-meskel, Endalkachew ; Baijukya, Frederick ; Marrou, Hélène ; Ittersum, Martin K. van - \ 2018
    European Journal of Agronomy 101 (2018). - ISSN 1161-0301 - p. 140 - 148.
    Chickpea - Common bean - Cowpea - Food self-sufficiency - Groundnut - Legumes - Pigeonpea - Sub-Saharan Africa - Yield gap - Yield potential

    Agricultural production in East Africa (E-Afr) has to increase drastically to meet future food demand. Yield gap assessment provides important information on the degree to which production can be increased on existing cropland. Most research on yield gap analysis has focussed on cereal crops, while legumes have received less attention despite of their relatively large area, and their importance as source of protein in smallholder farming systems in E-Afr. The objectives of this study were to (i) estimate water-limited yield potential (Yw) and yield gaps (Yg) for major grain legume crops in E-Afr, and (ii) estimate how narrowing the current legume Yg can contribute to food self-sufficiency by the year 2050. We focussed on Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, and five legumes crops including chickpea, common bean, cowpea, groundnut, and pigeonpea. A bottom-up approach which entails that local weather, soil and agronomic data was used as input for crop modelling (SSM-legumes) in a spatial framework, to estimate Yw, actual on-farm yield (Ya), and Yg from local to regional scale. Future legume self-sufficiency was assessed for 2050 demand assuming different Yg closure scenarios. On average, Ya was 25% of Yw across all legume-county combinations, being 15% for Kenya, 23% for Tanzania and 41% for Ethiopia. On average, common bean had the largest Yg of 2.6 Mg ha−1and chickpea the smallest (1.4 Mg ha−1). Closure of the exploitable Yg (i.e., 80% of Yw) can help to meet future legume demand in both Kenya and Tanzania, while it seems not to be sufficient in Ethiopia.

    How do climbing beans fit in farming systems of the eastern highlands of Uganda? Understanding opportunities and constraints at farm level
    Ronner, E. ; Descheemaeker, K. ; Marinus, W. ; Almekinders, C.J.M. ; Ebanyat, P. ; Giller, K.E. - \ 2018
    Agricultural Systems 165 (2018). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 97 - 110.
    Legumes - Multi-criteria - Participatory - Phaseolus vulgaris - Smallholder

    Climbing beans offer potential for sustainable intensification in the East-African highlands, but their introduction requires a major change in the cropping system compared with the commonly grown bush bean. We explored farm-level opportunities, constraints and trade-offs for climbing bean cultivation in the eastern highlands of Uganda. We established current food self-sufficiency, income, investment costs and labour, and assessed the ex-ante, farm-level impact of four climbing bean options on these indicators. Input for this assessment were a detailed characterization of 16 farms of four types, and on-farm, experimental data of adaptation trials of climbing bean. Climbing beans generally improved food self-sufficiency and income, but often required increased financial investment and always demanded more labour than current farm configurations. Opportunities for integration of climbing beans on small farms were limited. Although some of the poorest farmers accrued the largest absolute benefits from climbing beans, their ability to make the necessary investments is questionable. The analysis was translated into a simple-to-use modelling tool to enable participatory analysis of the outcomes with farmers of the four farm types to understand their perspectives and decision-making. The discussions revealed a recent increase in market prices for climbing bean resulting in growing interest in their cultivation in the eastern highlands. A lack of seed and stakes was limiting climbing bean cultivation, and a sufficient amount of climbing bean seed needs to be ensured through strengthening of farmer cooperatives and improved storage.

    Farmers' use and adaptation of improved climbing bean production practices in the highlands of Uganda
    Ronner, E. ; Descheemaeker, K. ; Almekinders, C.J.M. ; Ebanyat, P. ; Giller, K.E. - \ 2018
    Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 261 (2018). - ISSN 0167-8809 - p. 186 - 200.
    Adoption - Co-design - East Africa - Legumes - Nitrogen fixation - Phaseolus vulgaris - Smallholder

    Climbing beans offer potential for sustainable intensification of agriculture, but their cultivation constitutes a relatively complex technology consisting of multiple components or practices. We studied uptake of improved climbing bean production practices (improved variety, input use and management practices) through co-designed demonstrations and farmer-managed adaptation trials with 374 smallholder farmers in eastern and southwestern Uganda. A sub-set of these farmers was monitored one to three seasons after introduction. About 70% of the farmers re-planted climbing beans one season after the adaptation trial, with significant differences between eastern (50%) and southwestern Uganda (80-90%). Only 1% of the farmers used all of the improved practices and 99% adapted the technology. On average, farmers used half of the practices in different combinations, and all farmers used at least one of the practices. Yield variability of the trials was large and on average, trial plots did not yield more than farmers' own climbing bean plots. Yet, achieved yields did not influence whether farmers continued to cultivate climbing bean in the subsequent season. Uptake of climbing beans varied with household characteristics: poorer farmers cultivated climbing beans more often but used fewer of the best-bet practices; male farmers generally used more practices than female farmers. Planting by poorer farmers resulted in adaptations such as growing climbing beans without fertilizer and with fewer and shorter stakes. Other relationships were often inconsistent and farmers changed practices from season to season. The diversity of farmer responses complicates the development of recommendation domains and warrants the development of a basket of options from which farmers can choose. Our study shows how adoption of technologies consisting of multiple components is a complicated process that is hard to capture through the measurement of an adoption rate at a single point in time.

    Does introduction of clover in an agricultural grassland affect the food base and functional diversity of Collembola?
    Annibale, Alessandra D'; Sechi, Valentina ; Larsen, Thomas ; Christensen, Søren ; Krogh, Paul Henning ; Eriksen, Jørgen - \ 2017
    Soil Biology and Biochemistry 112 (2017). - ISSN 0038-0717 - p. 165 - 176.
    Functional diversity - Functional traits - Legumes - Mesofauna - Stable isotopes

    Introduction of legumes (i.e. white clover) in agricultural grasslands is a common practice to improve yields, but how this affects soil fauna populations, particularly mesofauna, is still poorly understood. We investigated taxonomical and functional differences of Collembola communities between plots with either perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), white clover (Trifolium repens L.) or a mixture of both in a Danish agricultural grassland 6 and 14 months after establishing the leys (September and May, respectively). Diet preferences were investigated via stable isotope analyses (SIA) of carbon (13C) and nitrogen (15N). Collembolan abundance data were used to analyse morphological and ecological traits of the collected taxa and calculate functional diversity indices. Our stable isotope results show that root-derived resources made larger contributions to epedaphic and hemiedaphic species in the white clover than ryegrass plots. Changes in taxa specific density and traits distribution as a response to the C:N ratio of plant material, suggest that plant material quality was the main factor affecting the collembolan community, especially when comparing the two sampling occasions. Functional richness decreased under conditions of low quality material. In contrast to our hypothesis, population densities did not increase under mixture treatment and functional richness decreased. Our results suggest that habitat changes, via different plant composition, can affect some functional groups, having in turn effects on the functional diversity of the community.

    Unravelling the causes of variability in crop yields and treatment responses for better tailoring of options for sustainable intensification in southern Mali
    Falconnier, G.N. ; Descheemaeker, Katrien ; Mourik, T.A. Van; Giller, K.E. - \ 2016
    Field Crops Research 187 (2016). - ISSN 0378-4290 - p. 113 - 126.
    Cereals - Intercropping - Legumes - Rotation - Soil type

    Options that contribute to sustainable intensification offer an avenue to improve crop yields and farmers' livelihoods. However, insufficient knowledge on the performance of various options in the context of smallholder farm systems impedes local adaptation and adoption. Therefore, together with farmers in southern Mali we tested a range of options for sustainable intensification including intensification of cereal (maize and sorghum) and legume (groundnut, soyabean and cowpea) sole crops and cereal-legume intercropping during three years on on-farm trials. There was huge variability among fields in crop yields of unamended control plots: maize yielded from 0.20 to 5.24tha-1, sorghum from 0 to 3.53tha-1, groundnut from 0.10 to 1.16tha-1, soyabean from 0 to 2.48tha-1 and cowpea from 0 to 1.02tha-1. This variability was partly explained by (i) soil type and water holding capacity, (ii) previous crop, its management and the nutrient carry-over and (iii) inter-annual weather variability. Farmers recognized three soil types: gravelly soils, sandy soils and black soils. Yields were very poor on gravelly soils and two to three times greater (depending on the crop) on black soils. Yields were also poor at the end of the typical crop rotation, i.e., after sorghum and millet, and 1.3-1.7 times greater (depending on the crop) after the fertilized crops maize and cotton. We diagnosed a number of cases of technology failure where no improvement in yield was observed with hybrid varieties of maize and sorghum and rhizobial inoculation of soyabean. Regardless of soil type and previous crop, mineral fertilizer improved yields by 34-126% depending on the crop. Targeting options to a given soil type and/or place in the rotation enhanced their agronomic performance: (i) the biomass production of the cowpea fodder variety was doubled on black soils compared with gravelly soils, (ii) the additive maize/cowpea intercropping option after cotton or maize resulted in an average overall LER of 1.47, no maize grain penalty, and 1.38tha-1 more cowpea fodder production compared with sole maize. Soil type and position in the rotation, two indicators easy to assess by farmers and extension workers, allowed the identification of specific niches for enhanced agronomic performance of legume sole cropping and/or intercropping.

    Beyond conservation agriculture
    Giller, K.E. ; Andersson, J.A. ; Corbeels, Marc ; Kirkegaard, John ; Mortensen, David ; Erenstein, Olaf ; Vanlauwe, Bernard - \ 2015
    Frontiers in Plant Science 6 (2015)OCTOBER. - ISSN 1664-462X - 14 p.
    Climate smart agriculture - Legumes - Mulch - Soil erosion - Sustainable intensification - Systems agronomy

    Global support for Conservation Agriculture (CA) as a pathway to Sustainable Intensification is strong. CA revolves around three principles: no-till (or minimal soil disturbance), soil cover, and crop rotation. The benefits arising from the ease of crop management, energy/cost/time savings, and soil and water conservation led to widespread adoption of CA, particularly on large farms in the Americas and Australia, where farmers harness the tools of modern science: highly-sophisticated machines, potent agrochemicals, and biotechnology. Over the past 10 years CA has been promoted among smallholder farmers in the (sub-) tropics, often with disappointing results. Growing evidence challenges the claims that CA increases crop yields and builds-up soil carbon although increased stability of crop yields in dry climates is evident. Our analyses suggest pragmatic adoption on larger mechanized farms, and limited uptake of CA by smallholder farmers in developing countries. We propose a rigorous, context-sensitive approach based on Systems Agronomy to analyze and explore sustainable intensification options, including the potential of CA. There is an urgent need to move beyond dogma and prescriptive approaches to provide soil and crop management options for farmers to enable the Sustainable Intensification of agriculture.

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